Two of Western Australia’s largest and most established ex-service organisations have joined forces to launch the State’s first targeted accommodation program specifically for veterans.
The joint initiative between the Australian Air Force Association, known as RAAFA, and RSLWA is set to provide quality housing for former members of the defence forces in a refurbished apartment building in South Perth.
The unique program has been made possible through a partnership with Hancock Prospecting, which has purchased an existing property to support the needs of WA veterans.
Mrs Gina Rinehart AO, Executive Chairman of Hancock Prospecting, was named “Honorary Guardian of Veterans” by Soldier On this year for her long-term support of veterans. Under her leadership Hancock Prospecting and its related companies, including Roy Hill, drive the opportunity for veteran employment within each of these businesses.
The property, which will be known as Sir Valston Hancock House – after a former leader of the Royal Australian Air Force and uncle of Mrs Rinehart – will be completely refurbished to create a total of nine two-bedroom apartments, with works expected to commence before the end of 2023.
RAAFA Chief Executive Officer Michelle Fyfe said the initiative would provide more targeted and much-needed assistance to the veteran community.
“We’re all too aware of the pressures many West Australians are facing to secure accommodation amid the ongoing housing crisis, and veterans – particularly those moving out of Defence back into community life – are no exception,” she said.
“There are approximately 330 veterans who return to civilian life in WA each year and while most don’t need assistance, this new targeted program will ensure there is somewhere to turn for those that do.
“Across Australia nearly 6,000 current and former ADF personnel – or 5.3% of our veteran community – are facing difficulty securing accommodation, which is a rate nearly three times higher than the broader population. Together with RSLWA, we are proud to be leading the way in providing solutions and more dedicated assistance in WA.”
Once the property renovations are complete, RAAFA and RSLWA will share responsibilities for managing and delivering the program to provide veterans with access to accommodation and wraparound wellbeing services tailored to their individual needs.
RAAFA will oversee program operations including property maintenance, tenancy agreements, and collaboration with RSLWA, which will be responsible for promoting the program within the veteran community, securing tenants, and managing ongoing engagement with residents including connecting them to wellbeing services.
Both RAAFA and RSLWA have acknowledged the significant support provided by Hancock Prospecting and its Executive Chair, Mrs Gina Rinehart, without whom this important initiative would not have been possible.
“We are grateful for Mrs Rinehart’s generous contribution and her ongoing commitment to veterans’ wellbeing. This support is enabling RSLWA and RAAFA to build on our proud legacies of going above and beyond to support WA veterans who have given incredible service to our country,” said RSLWA Chief Executive Officer Vince Connelly.
The property is expected to be ready to accept residents in the first half of 2024.
In 1929 a group of former Australian Flying Corps (AFC) Members established an Association that would keep alive the spirit of camaraderie and selflessness they experienced during WWI. That Association, and its spirit, lives on today as the Air Force Association (WA Division) Incorporated, trading as RAAFA.
Today, RAAFA is a dynamic organisation providing support services to veterans and their families as well as being one of the largest not-for-profit retirement living and residential care providers in Western Australia.
About RSL WA
The Returned and Services League (RSLWA) has for the past 106 years helped veterans and their families to engage and thrive in their local communities throughout WA. RSLWA connects veterans and their families with wellbeing, camaraderie, employment, financial counselling and advocacy support.